Let’s face it. The span of time where your children are small and dependent on you is relatively short.
Even if it doesn’t feel like it some days.
They go from wanting to play outside a little longer to wanting to stay out a lot later.
They try your patience and test limits and you think YOU might not make it through having teenagers even if your grocery budget somehow manages it.
Then one day you realize that two of your babies have (or are about to) graduate High School and the other two will graduate in a couple of years.
And you start to wonder what you will do with yourself when they are all graduated. Grown up. Adults.
I know I did.
5 ways I’ve gotten through what modern psychology calls “The Empty Nest Syndrome”.
1. I allowed myself time to mourn. I realized that I was facing a big change. I was worried that life would be too quiet, too lonely at times and maybe even downright boring with no one to take care of. I would give myself a day here and there to just sit with it. A day to be sad, to look over old photos and remember fun times. A day.
And then I would tell myself that I had to put it aside for a while because I was worried that more than a day would lead to weeks or months of feeling sad and I didn’t want that.
Giving myself a day to mourn now and then was kind of like releasing the steam in a pressure cooker before it explodes all over the kitchen. It helped me to let out some of my feelings a little at a time.
2. Get busy. When I started to see that my kids needed me less and less I started to think about things I had put aside while they were young. I began to get back in touch with my creative self. I got a part time job in a flower shop and I liked it enough to get certified as a floral designer. I moved on to interior design and got to work on some great television projects. From there I went on to craft design. Working part time for the most part. I was lucky to find jobs that were pretty flexible so I was still around quite a lot while still working on MY thing.
3. Gratitude. I was so very thankful that my kids had made it through those scary teenage years with no major accidents. They are smart, caring and engaged young adults. While it was hard to let go I had to keep reminding myself that things were just the way they should be.
4. Make new friends. I had spent so much time running one business or another that I rarely got out except for soccer games, music lessons or school events. Very rarely did I get out to just socialize. I got out, made friends and began to socialize more.
5. Fall more in love with my husband. Having four kids makes it hard for much one on one time. So now, even if we are just doing dishes together we’ll have lively discussions about current events, schools of thought or whatever. We’ve started having a date morning on Saturdays and enjoy our time with one another.It’s been wonderful getting to spend more time together. I’ve come to realize, even more, how lucky I am to be married to my best friend.
I’m not a mental health professional of any kind so take what I say with a grain of salt. Pick out the bits that work for you and leave the rest.
Keep in mind that thoughts or feelings about having an empty nest come earlier than you might imagine. Small milestones in even their pre-teen years make you realize that their adulthood is quickly approaching.
If you find that you are having trouble letting go or dealing with your feelings it might help to talk to a professional. It’s a major life change and I know that different people handle life in different ways.You have to do what is best for you.
Most importantly, know you aren’t alone and keep in mind that there are still many great things to look forward to.
But I’m not pushing for grandbabes…just yet. :)